Explosions near the Khmelnytskyi nuclear power plant in western Ukraine early Wednesday shattered windows at the facility and temporarily cut off power to some off-site radiation monitoring stations, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported on October 25.
According to the IAEA, air raid sirens went off at 1:26 a.m. local time, followed sometime later by the sound of two explosions. Agency personnel at Khmelnytskyi were later informed that two drones had been shot down at a distance of approximately 5 and 20 kilometers (about 3.1 and 12.4 miles) from the plant, respectively.
The blasts did not affect the plant’s operations or its connection to Ukraine’s electricity grid, the IAEA said. Site areas suffering window damage include the passageway to the reactor buildings, an integrated auxiliary building, a special equipment building, and the training center.
Khmelnytskyi houses two 950-MWe VVER-1000/V320 pressurized water reactors, with one currently in operation and one off line for scheduled maintenance.
The region’s governor, Serhiy Tyurin, provided more details on the strike, saying in a statement posted on Telegram that 282 apartment blocks, more than 1,400 private houses, 41 educational establishments, and 6 health buildings had suffered damage.
What they’re saying: In a video address Wednesday evening, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky suggested that the Khmelnytskyi plant had most likely been the target of the drone attack and that every attack by Russian forces, “especially those daring enough to target nuclear power stations and other critical facilities, serves as an argument that pressure on the terrorist state is insufficient.”
Said IAEA director general Rafael Mariano Grossi: “This incident again underlines the extremely precarious nuclear safety situation in Ukraine, which will continue as long as this tragic war goes on. The fact that numerous windows at the site were destroyed shows just how close it was. Next time, we may not be so fortunate. Hitting a nuclear power plant must be avoided at all costs.”
In case you missed it: The number of units in hot shutdown at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, under Russian occupation since early March 2022, has increased from one to two, the IAEA reported on October 20. In addition, according to the agency, plant personnel have begun to operate mobile diesel boilers in an effort to generate more heating during the coming winter, including to the nearby town of Enerhodar.
Zaporizhzhia stopped producing electricity for Ukraine’s grid in September 2022. Since April of this year, five of the plant’s six 950-MWe VVER-1000/V320 PWRs have been kept in cold shutdown, with just one in hot shutdown to generate steam to process liquid radioactive waste and for other safety-related functions.